Navy SEAL to pilot

Kronovich focuses on family and aviation career

Navy SEAL to pilot

By Ann Krebs

What do you do after serving as a United States Navy SEAL? You become a Bowling Green State University nontraditional student to start a third career, of course. After years of protecting dignitaries, instructing soldiers and conducting anti-piracy operations, Chris Kronovich decided it was time to settle down with his family and focus on his next career as a pilot. 

Kronovich grew up in the Toledo area. Ever since he was 8 years old, he knew he wanted to be a Navy SEAL to honor those who have fought to make this country great. 

He graduated from the University of Toledo with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Immediately after completing Navy boot camp, he went through Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) preparation—some of the most mentally challenging and physically demanding training in the world—and reached his goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. He was with the Navy for five years until he was medically separated. 

After traveling the world, working several civilian government jobs, and moving 11 times with two children, Kronovich wanted to move back to Ohio to be closer to family and start a new career.

Before returning to this area in August, Kronovich lived in western Michigan where he was a public safety officer, cross-trained as a fireman, police officer and EMT. He knew he wanted to be a pilot and had taken classes in the past at a flight school in Arizona, but there he “felt like a number,” he said. He didn’t receive the flight time he needed or the personal attention—unlike his current experience at BGSU. 

When researching flight schools, Kronovich considered Western Michigan University and BGSU. A family friend had graduated with a degree in aviation studies from Bowling Green and highly recommended he consider the aviation program.

Kronovich said, “After meeting the staff at the BG Flight Center, how could you not come here? They are the type of people that actually want to see you succeed.

“Christine Doering, the marketing manager, and Nancy Vanderlugt, business manager, are wonderful and helped me get started in the program. I have to mention Dr. Barbara Henry, assistant vice president for nontraditional and military service students, who is great. She helped me finalize my schedule and get the 12 credit hours I needed to meet the requirements of the VA (Veteran Affairs) education benefits.” 

“Chris is a dedicated student and motivates our other students,” Doering said. “We are honored to have him in our aviation flight and operations program at BGSU.”

Kronovich found that the instructors care about the students just as much as the staff does and are willing to work with the students’ schedules. One instructor, Aaron Wells, makes time to be accessible after hours and on the weekends, said Kronovich, who needs a certain amount of flying time because he’s taking two aviation classes at the same time. He said Wells has gone above and beyond to help him accomplish his goals of completing the hours needed. 

As a nontraditional student with a military background, Kronovich was able to apply his military experience toward college credits. This will allow him to take fewer classes and focus on the core courses. 

Military Times ranked BGSU 25th out of 125 four-year schools, outranking all other Ohio universities, in its “Best for Vets: Colleges 2016” edition. "Best for Vets" is considered the most comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military student services and their rates of academic achievement.

BGSU was also recognized by Military Advanced Education in its Top Schools 2016 list and is included in Military Friendly’s 2016 school list as well.

Kronovich recommends that students let the faculty and staff know what their goals are no matter how basic or extreme because they will definitely accommodate them. 

“There is such an extreme difference from this college experience from my previous college experience,” he said. “With the BGSU aviation program, everybody knows your name, and who you are. It feels a lot more like a group of friends or family.

“What I like about this program too is that it’s hands-on. It’s not just theoretical. It’s applicable and you can apply the theories that you learn and receive real world experience. I feel like I will be 100 percent ready for my next career.”

After graduating, Kronovich plans to be an airline pilot with a large cargo company. To some it may not sound as exciting as his previous career, but he’s looking forward to a calmer life style and spending time with his family.